Friday, 10 February 2012

Your chance to tell the government about fake charities like Alcohol Concern


There has long been confusion as to whether a charity is defined by what it does or by the source of its income. Most of the public think of charity and charities in terms of income source – our understanding is that their income is freely given by people wanting to help the particular cause.

The problem is that this isn’t how the system defines a charity which is on the basis of deeds rather than income.

Charities must provide benefit to the public, not to a specific individual. Their aims, purposes or objectives have to be exclusively those which the law recognises as charitable. A registered charity will usually be given a special tax status and benefit from a number of tax exemptions and reliefs.

The law sets out a series of “charitable purposes” and, if your organisation is involved in one or more of these then you are entitled to register as a charity.

Prevention or relief of poverty
Advancement of education
Advancement of health or saving of lives
Advancement of citizenship or community development
Advancement of arts, culture, heritage or science
Advancement of amateur sport
Advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity
Advancement of environmental protection or improvement
Relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage
Advancement of animal welfare
Promotion of efficiency of the armed forces of the Crown or the efficiency of the police, fire and rescue or ambulance services
Any other purposes recognised as charitable under the Act - this last item covers a charitable purpose that is within the spirit of the above purposes and is a mechanism for future development of the list of charitable purposes

The government is reviewing the 2006 Charities Act (the one rammed through by Labour as a stick to beat private schools) and has issued a series of questionnaires as part of a wider consultation on charities and charity laws. Clearly these matters of definition are significant and it seems to me that the process presents the opportunity to raise the matter of what get called “fake charities” – organisations that enjoy charitable status yet are wholly or predominantly funded through government contracts.

Most importantly it affords us the opportunity to raise the matter of “charities” being funded by government and then spending that funding on lobby the government:

Perhaps the most egregious example uncovered as yet is Alcohol Concern. Out of an income in one year of just shy of £1 million, 57% came from the Department of Health...and yes, Alcohol Concern has been and is quite vociferous in its lobbying of the Department of Health on how access to alcohol can and should be restricted. Private donations were a tad shy of £5,000 (yes, that's five thousand, not five hundred thousand nor even fifty thousand) so their income from real people actually supporting their efforts was less than 0.5% of their total income. It's extremely difficult to see that this is a charity and even more difficult to see why they should been given any credence whatsoever in the media.

The questionnaires are accessible on the Cabinet Office website and the consultation is open until 16th April.


1 comment:

SadButMadLad said...

Look it at like the union Pilgrims.

The taxpayer is funding unions to do what unions should be doing from their subscriptions.

Fake charities are being funded by the taxpayer to do what they should be doing from private donations.